Thursday, 31 January 2008

Allah Made Me Funny

Who said Muslims have no sense of humor? When a community can laugh at has come of age! Let us all spread some smiles and laughs! Recently the group Allah Made Me Funny were expected to perform in Glasgow but Muslims at Caledonian University complained that their performance was 'offensive to their religion'. Well, let's be clear here that these individuals find it offensive, Islam is big enough to take offense! Thank God Islam (or God) are not left at the hands of the believers to protect! I think it is a great way to break down barriers and stereotypes. And so I am promoting them here on my blog! Enjoy!

Is it 'cool' to be 'stupid'?

I've been thinking about this one for a long time now and have decided that I wanted to kick off a debate about this. I seem to notice that the 'youth' of today (and I do include myself in this category,haha, I am only 28! come on!) seem to believe that to act silly and stupid is attractive. Many examples spring to mind. We just need to watch television programs such as 'Friends' to get an idea of what I mean. Joey? Phoebe? At the gym today I saw a guy wearing odd socks which I assume he thought looked 'cool'. Is this silly and stupid? I guess this is pretty harmless! But, it is not uncommon to see guys wearing jeans hanging so low that half their butt/underwear is shown. I died of embarrassment once when a guys jeans actually fell to his ankles in Sauchiehall Street, he just pulled them back to their low base position and walked on. When I taught RE at high schools in Glasgow young teenage girls would often want their g-strings to be seen as they paraded along the corridors. Would I be narrow minded to suggest to these girls that this was inappropriate? Or is liberty in fashion something that I, as a progressive, should be promoting? Hmmm. My position on this is that wear what you want but you must suffer the consequences. This could be from jeering/insults or even a bottom pinch! Clarification here, in no way do I believe that women can ever dress to allure a rapist, this is a common insult that some narrow minded Muslims use in support of women covering from top to toe. No one deserves to be raped. (Thanks Margot for asking me to clarify on this one, your comments are essential!)

I'm not saying that we should all be dressed in tweed jackets and turtlenecks but what I am saying is that presentation is indicative of many things. 'First impressions last'. But then again if we create a culture where 'stupid' is 'cool' should we even be worrying about such things? My 'stupid' is someone else's 'cool' I guess! Fashion trends change every day and I personally have a desire to look good with clothes that suit me. But can fashion and trend become a dangerous arena? Is it possible that fashion and trends make us lose sight of the bigger picture? Lose sight of our relationship with God? Individuality is promoted in Islamic traditions but when they can harm you or people around you then one must re-consider their worth. Of course interpreting this 'harm' is also open to debate.

In Islamic tradition one must be clean and tidy in order to be ritually pure which means that clothes should be free from dirt. I have seen guys praying in the Mosque with the bottom of their jeans covered in muck because they wear their jeans so low. Is this really the way we wish to present ourselves to our creator? Keeping in mind that there are no seats in the Mosque, just an open hall where everyone prays standing and kneeling on the carpeted floor. I am sick and tired of walking into the Wudu (ritual ablution) area of Mosques and stepping into large puddles of water. It is a part of the Wudu to clean ones hands, mouth, nose, face, arms, ears and feet. It is then not surprising that the place could get wet but by ritually purifying yourself must you make it an awful experience for those after you? Cleanliness must go hand in hand with fashion. The Prophet Muhammad said that cleanliness is half of faith...much to think about there.

Then there is the phenomena that some guys act silly in front of some girls in order to attract their attention. I've never quite got my head around this one. I see it quite often with friends that they think that girls will find them more attractive if they act a fool. Is this not perpetuating old gender stereotypes? Is this the way that men try to create a balance to patriarchy? Is this the way that women seek their liberation from male dominance? This reminds me of the time when I worked for the Ford Foundation New York and was organising an International Conference in Istanbul. A debate started about gender balance amongst participants. There were some who said that we need to have an equal number of men and women at this conference. I was of the opinion that the best person should be selected. Not quite sure what the correct answer is but surely we are of worth because we are a 'being' and not a 'man' or a 'woman'?

I am left wondering then.....what is cool and what is stupid?

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Benazir Bhutto: Gone but Not Forgotten

It has been just over a month since the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The media has stopped rolling her image. Old news never takes the headlines. If we are to seek progress for our tomorrow we must contemplate the mess of the past...

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib: The World is a Playground

Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib (1797-1869) was one of the most famous Urdu Poets of Mughal India, 19th Century. Ghalib's poems are not like his contemporaries such as Mir Taqi Mir,, as they are highly Persianised. I wanted to present one poem which I find fascinating. Many interesting angles, turns and flows which will inspire us all in looking at our world in a different way.

The World is a Playground

Baazi-cha-aie-Atfal Hai Dunia, Mere Aage
Hota Hai Shaboroze Tamasha Mere Aage
Ik Khel Hai Aurang-e-suleman, Mere Nazdeek
Ik Baat Hai Ajaaz-a-Maseehah, Mere Aage
Juz Naam, Nahin Surat-a-aalam Mujhe Manzoor
Juz Vaham, Nahin Hasti-e-ashiya, Mere Aage
Hota Hai Nihan Gard Mein Sahra, Mere Hote
Ghista Hai Jabin Khak Pe Dariya, Mere Aage
Mut Poochh, Ki Kya Haal Hai Mera, Tere Peeche
Tu Dekh Ki Kya Rung Hai Tera, Mere Aage
Sach Kehte Ho Khudbeen-o-Khuddara Hun, Kyon Na Hun?
Baitha Hai Butt-a-Aaeena-Seema, Mere Aage
Phir Dekhiye, Andaz-e-Gul-Afshani-e-Guftaar
Rakh De Koyee Paimana-o-Sahba Mere Aage
Nafrat Ka Guman Guzre Hai, Mein Rushk Se Guzra
Kyonkar Kahun, Lo Naam Na Unka Mere Aage
Iman Mujhe Roke Hai, To Khenche Hai Mujhe Kufra
Kaba Mere Peeche Hai, Kalisa Mere Aage
Aashiq Hun, Per Mashook-Farebi Hai Mera Kaam
Majnun Ko Bura Kehti Hai Laila Mere Aage
Khush Hote Hain, Pur, Vasl Mein Yon Mur Nahin Jaate
Aayee Shab-a-Hijran Ki Tamanna Mere Aage
Hai Moujzan Ik Kulzum-e-Khun, Kaash, Yahi Ho
Aata Hai, Abhi Dekhiye, Kya Kya, Mere Aage
Go Hath Mein Jumbish Nahin, Aankhon Mein To Dum Hai
Rahne Do Abhi Sagar-O-Meena, Mere Aage
Humpesh-O-Hummastrab-O-Humraaz Hai Mera
"Ghalib" to Bura Kyon Kaho, Accha Mere Aage

English Translation

I perceive the world as a playground
Where dawn and dusk appear in eternal rounds
In His Universal form is a plaything the throne of Solomon
The miracles of the Messiah seem so ordinary in my eyes
Without name I cannot comprehend any form
Illusionary but is the identity of all objects
My anguish envelopes the entire desert
Silently flows the river in front of my floods
Ask not what separation has done to me
Just see your poise when I come in front of you
Truly you say that I am egotistical and proud
It is the reflection, O friend, in your limited mirror
To appreciate the style and charm of conversation
Just bring in the goblet and wine
Hatred manifests due to my envious mind
Thus I say, don't take his name in front of me
Faith stops me while temptations attract
Inspite of Kaaba behind and church ahead
I am the Lover, yet notorious is my charm
Thus Laila calls names to Majnu in front of me
"Dies" not one though the union is a delight
In premonition of the separation night
Alas, this be it, the bloody separation wave
I know not what else is in store ahead of me
Though the hands don't move, the eyes are alive
Wine and goblet, let them stay in front of me
Says "Ghalib"
Conscience is companion and trusted friend
Don't pass any judgments in front of me.